No secret talks to retreat on N30 pensions strike!

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) issued the following statement in response to a report that TUC leader Brendan Barber is engaging in secret talks with the aim of calling off public sector strike action planned for 30th November.

The front page of the Independent on Thursday October 6th has an article claiming that TUC leader Brendan Barber has been to Tory Party conference this week for secret talks with Con-Dem ministers to try to “avert mass strikes”.

If this is true, union activists will be outraged. The NSSN recognises the need for negotiations but these should be out in the open, involving all those unions preparing to take action on November 30th (N30), which could see up to 3 million public sector workers on strike – more than on the first day of the 1926 general strike.

So-called “private talks” can only confuse union members and activists at a time when millions will be balloting for strike action.

In any case, the clear message that has to be sent to the government is that only a total and complete retreat from their plans to attack public sector pensions would be enough to consider stopping the N30 strike.

The government’s proposals will make public sector workers pay more into their pensions at a time of pay freezes – and when many of these workers have actually seen pay cuts because of attacks on their terms and conditions.

The Con-Dems then want them to get worse pension benefits and wait longer to receive them. It has been calculated that the net effect will be to take a day’s pay off each worker every month.

It is clear from this situation that the government is terrified of the N30 strike and is desperate to prevent it. But this should be the signal to keep the pressure up.

The TUC and the trade unions need to send a clear message of defiance to the Con-Dems and work to get the best possible vote for strike action on the maximum turnout and then to build for a massive strike on N30 that can appeal to private sector workers, young people and pensioners to defeat this cabinet of millionaires.